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City Palace, Jaipur

   Located in the heart of the old city, the City Palace complex occupies a large area divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. Laid out in the traditional pattern of royal complexes seen everywhere in India, the palace sports a mix of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles.
In front of the palace lies the Mubarak Mahal or 'welcome palace', a jewel-like two-storied marble-and-sandstone building with delicately carved screens on the verandahs that give the palace an airy look. Today Mubarak Mahal houses an excellent textile museum that showcases some of the finest creations of Indian craftspeople, such as intricately woven gold brocades and embroidered, printed and dyed fabrics in cotton and silk.
Rajendra Pol is the most photographed gateway in the City Palace, flanked by two marble elephants and with gleaming bronze doors that open to reveal a magical world within. Beyond the gate, the open, pillared canopy of the Diwan-I-Khas stands on a podium.
Here stands the two immense silver urns, the largest in the world, which were used to carry holy Ganga water when the then ruler Madho Singh II travelled to England in 1901. As a devout Hindu, the Maharaja was reluctant to risk ritual pollution by imbibing English water. Each urn is made of over 2,000 kg of silver and can hold 1,800 gallons of water.
Then comes the four-storied Ridhi Sidhi Pol leads to the most beautiful courtyard in the complex - Pritam Niwas Chowk. Each of the four gates to the courtyard is painted with magnificent variations of the peacock motif.
North of Chowk stands the finest palace of the complex, the Chandra Mahal or the City Palace, which even today is the home of the former Maharaja of Jaipur. From here, a meandering path takes a visitor to the Jai Niwas Bagh, a landscaped garden laid in the Mughal Charbagh style with water channels, fountains and pools. Stone pathways from there that go to the Govind Devji temple, housing the Jaipur kings' presiding deity Lord Krishna.
The Diwan-I-Am nearby houses a fascinating museum, with one of the best collections of rare miniature paintings done in the unique Rajasthani style. It also boasts of a fine collection of Persian carpets and India's largest chandeliers.
 

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